DUI arrest after downtown wreckage
A runaway utility truck left behind a wake of destruction on Morrison Moore Parkway Monday afternoon, injuring several motorists and striking numerous vehicles before coming to a crashing halt in the crowded dining room of Moe’s Southwest Grill.
No one was injured in the downtown restaurant, despite the busy lunch rush.
However, multiple injuries were reported on the highway as the driver of the plumbing service truck, Steve Russell Moss, 28, plowed through a line of traffic, striking a total of seven vehicles before reportedly accelerating into the building, said officials.
The Woodstock man has since been charged with DUI and reckless driving, according to Sheriff Stacy Jarrard.
Moss, who was still at Northeast Georgia Medical Center at press-time, reportedly drove away from a nearby Dahlonega construction site around 1 p.m. in the vehicle, without telling his coworkers.
“They came out and the truck was gone,” said Jarrard. “And they were looking for it so they looked it up on GPS.”
When the workers saw that the truck was at Moe’s, they assumed Moss had just left to get a bite to eat.
Once they heard the sound of nearby sirens, they soon learned otherwise.
‘SOUNDED LIKE EXPLOSIONS’
Mark Addison was sitting in the patio dining area of Moe’s as he watched the truck speed in his direction. It barreled over his daughter’s unoccupied Honda Civic and essentially jumped the low-bodied vehicle like a ramp before heading straight for the restaurant.
"We were sitting having lunch,” he told The Nugget. “And I heard what sounded like explosions and saw the van come over the curb and hit my daughter's car."
Inside the bustling restaurant, day time manager Harley Duitsman couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing.
“It happened so fast,” he said. “Everything just came off the wall and the Coke machine flew into the counter.”
The truck demolished the wall of the restaurant, plowing through the drink machine and salsa bar, before coming to a stop just in front of the counter.
Duitsman recalled that a woman and her three children were standing at the spot of impact moments before the crash.
“Thank God nobody was there then,” he said.
Ross was semi-conscious after the accident as fast-responding emergency workers administered aid.
A Lifeflght helicopter was on stand-by but not needed, according to officials.
Outside the restaurant, the string of wrecked vehicles on Morrison Moore Parkway left Lumpkin County emergency workers scrambling to aid numerous victims. Two drivers had to be cut from their vehicles before they were loaded into waiting ambulances. Lumpkin first responders moved from car to car in efforts to reach everyone in need.
“I have a count of seven!” shouted one firefighter before moving quickly towards another victim.
"Is anyone hurt over here?" yelled another as onlookers crowded the side of the street.
Despite the widespread damage, early reports indicate that there were no fatalities.
"Several serious but non-life-threatening injuries occurred," said Lt. Alan Roach of the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office.
The accidents left many on the scene shaken, as they recalled the narrow brush with the speeding vehicle.
Brian Bowman was standing outside of Moe’s as he watched the truck head his way.
"At first I just heard boom, boom, boom,” he said. “I looked up and saw this lady’s car flip over the rail a couple times. He must've really nailed her. Then I saw the van come down and jump over that Honda. He was on the gas when he hit it and was still on the gas when he hit the wall."
Georgia State Patrol is now handling the investigation of all accidents related to the incident.
Meanwhile, Jarrard said that once Ross is released from medical care, he will be transported directly to Lumpkin County Detention Center.